Saturday, December 6, 2008

In Which I am a Burly Alaskan Woman

My facebook status as of 4:03pm
I just got back from some SERIOUS BACKWOODS BUSHWHACKING to get a Christmas tree. With a 30lb toddler on my back no less.

CB at 4:05pm December 6
You are a burly Alaskan woman! Nice work!

GC at 4:18pm December 6
You ARE the WOMAN!!!

BN at 4:18pm December 6
That's so traditional Christmas of you! Even if it was tough, I bet it makes for a nice memory. :)
So, we live in a rural rural in fact, that the official policy of the national forest (yes, you got that, federally protected wild forest) is that everyone who lives here is welcome to hike on up and cut themselves a Christmas tree. No charge. I suspect that deer take out more trees annually than Christmas-Tree-hunters.
This morning we bundled everybody up and headed up the mountain. When I say 'up' you should understand that I mean that in a most literal sense...several portions of the 'trail' are 70-80% grade (in other words, you climb up with your hands and feet). Please keep in mind that I did this with a 30 lb toddler on my back...a toddler who kept saying "walk, mommy, I walk!"
The 'trail' is narrow, and substantial portions of it are a stream bed. In other words, when you take a step, you may put your foot into 3 inches of snow; OR you may put your foot into 3 inches of snow AND 3-12 inches of very soft very wet mud; OR you may put your foot into 3 inches of snow, 1/4 inch of slushy ice, and 3-? inches of water. Really really cold water. Walking up this trail is not for the faint of heart--there's a reason I've never gone up it before in the 15 months we've lived here!
I did a lot of holding onto branches of the shrubs and trees we passed...they were wet, they soaked my gloves, but they helped me keep my balance on the steep, wet, slippery, muddy, slushy, unpredictable ground! A few times Bear hollered "ow!" as cold water or a slippery branch flew at him, but for the most part he had the easy part of the trip. I got my pants wet halfway to my knees (but not inside my boots!) and I fell on my tooshie once...not to shabby, all things considered.
Wolf, on the other hand, felt the need to investigate nearly every pond we passed...these are places where the stream pools up...keep in mind that we do live in a rainforest, so there are LOTS of these pools. This pool was frozen over. I watched him poke at it with his stick, then step onto it, then step out toward the middle...then just stand there as the cracking sounds echoed beneath him...then as he fell through he whooped and hopped off. (Of course, he subsequently waded back in...)
Wolf got wet and cold nearly up to his waist.
Hubby, with the tree (which he then carried back down that same precarious trail)
Upon arriving home, I stripped everybody down and threw all the cold, wet, muddy clothes into the washing machine, and stuck both kids in the shower to warm up. Hubby put the kettle on and we all had some hot cocoa.
The tree is relaxing downstairs in a tub of water while we try to figure out how to put it up without a tree stand (since our stand is in a box in storage in Utah).


TopHat said...

My favorite part was when you guys got home- just imagining the feeling of getting all warm and cozy after some work out in the cold makes me feel warm and cozy! I love that feeling.

FrogleyMom said...

We just got our tree today too... but we got one of those from a lot across the street from Target, and it was definitely not free. :)

Mae said...

Hiking into the boonies to cut down your own tree is THE ONLY way to do it.

Your experience is very much like mine at the ranch, only I never carried a toddler! (The "I walk, Mommy!" comments were hilarious and soo almost-two-year-old) But you'd be surprised how hilly and wet the west end of the ranch is. We also pulled ours back to the house by a horse once we'd gotten it up the steep hill.

Good luck with the tree stand! Growing up, my dad just nailed our tree stand into the floor every year (through the carpet) because we could never get it to stay up (12 foot tree so as not to be dwarfed by 20 foot ceiling...) I'll have to google some "do-it-yourself" tree stands 'cause you've got me intrigued now! Between D's carpentry skills and your ingenuity, I'm sure you can come up with something.

Brooke said...

Hmmm... I will be interested to see how you stand a tree without a tree stand.
Alaska sounds cold and surprisingly WET for December. I need a warm drink just thinking about it!

Mommy Bee said...

I think we've settled on a 5 gal bucket with some rocks in it to keep the trunk vertical.
We'll do it tomorrow...along with our homemade decorations (strings of popcorn and cranberries, plus dried oranges (sprinkled with cloves), and some homemade danish heart baskets. Darn, I forgot to ask Hubby to bring home some construction paper for that. I'll have to do that!

The Thalman's said...

Oh, that sounds like so much fun!!! And so cold! Our little apartment only gets a 4 foot tree. I definitely giggled at the "burly Alaskan woman" part. I do think you are tough! It's very admirable. I told my hubby about you, and he wants to try out living in rural Alaska now! :D

Cynthia said...

I bow to your superior woman-ness (yes, it's a word). I would not last 5 minutes in Alaska no matter how much I love to watch 'Survivor Man'. It's so beautiful but the cold would do me in.

What a cool experience for your family though to go and get your own tree. Thanks for sharing so I can live vicariously through your adventure from the warmth of my own home.

nicole said...

Sweet!! How fun! We have that tradition too, but our method is a little more, should I say civilized?? ;) We go to a tree farm and select one of the trees there. Unfortunately, we have to pay $35 every time! How nice that you get it for free! Just another one of the many perks of living in Alaska, huh?! What a fun family memory for you guys.

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